Synopsis: Two men on London’s Waterloo Bridge debate the merits of jumping off into the dark river below.
This film was inspired by a true story. Can you tell us about it?
My brother was crossing Waterloo Bridge late one night when he came across a young man who looked as if he was about to jump. My brother assumed he wanted to commit suicide. But the man then explained he was a soldier and this is what he did to test his mettle before he was called to duty. It was his way of facing his fears before he faced the battlefield. My brother tried to talk him out of jumping but soon realized the soldier would do it with or without him. This was a ritual he had to complete to survive what lay ahead and nothing was going to change that mindset. My brother chose to stay and make sure the soldier was safe. He then watched as the soldier stripped down and jumped from the bridge. Luckily, he wasn’t harmed and swam to the embankment where he dressed, thanked my brother and disappeared into the night. The odd tale stuck with me and I just knew it would inspire a great film.
It feels like a theater piece. Have you written for the theater?
I have written a couple of plays but nothing produced as yet. The original version of ON THE BRIDGE was part of play I wrote called ‘The Bridge of Sighs’, which told four short stories all set on Waterloo Bridge at different periods in history, all based on true events.
Both actors are great and work very well together. How did you come across them?
We had a fantastic casting director, Kate Bone, who has cast for some major feature film projects, including the new Star Wars series. I sent her my wish list of actors, which included Dean Lennox Kelly for the role of ‘Danny’. The list was just a guide, I had no idea she would actually get us Dean, who has appeared in cult TV shows such as Shameless, Dr. Who, and Being Human. We found Christopher Tester, who plays Matthew, after a three-day audition process involving over 50 actors. Christopher is well known for his theater work and has an endearing vulnerability that worked perfectly for the role.
What does this film say about the nature of courage?
The most important thing our film says about courage is that it can be found within all of us if we dig deep enough and help each other find that strength to face our fears. Danny inspires Matthew to find his inner courage and make that leap from the bridge. In a way, Matthew also inspires Danny to find the courage to question his choices in life and perhaps in the end take a different leap.
What message do you hope people to take away from this film after seeing it?
I would love our film to inspire others. Not to jump of bridges, of course, but to take a metaphorical leap in their lives and open up to new experiences and more courageous ways of being. This film also is about reaching out and shows how our lives can be enriched if we just make the time and effort to really connect with others, especially with those people we might never normally think to stop and talk to. It’s like Danny says to Matthew: “A dozen people passed me by tonight but you stopped because you’re fearless. You’re the real hero”.
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